• La Rochelle harbour

    La Rochelle harbour

    Want to get away for a couple of days?  Then pick up a low-cost flight from the UK or Ireland and head for La Rochelle on the French Atlantic Coast for the perfect budget break.

    Backpackers should head for the Youth Hostel at Port des Minimes, just a short hop from the town centre, main attractions, and bike hire stations. La Rochelle is a city that actively welcomes cyclists!

    You’ll be surprised at the choice of activities on offer. If you like to get under the skin of a city by discovering its history and heritage, join one of the guided tours run by the Tourist Office and explore the town’s museums, especially the Musée du Nouveau Monde, or New World Museum.

    La Rochelle Yélo bikes

    La Rochelle Yélo bikes

    For those on a tight budget, the Pass Rochelais gives unlimited access to all kinds of public transport as well as discounted entry to a variety of attractions. For a great value lunch or dinner, drop in at La Caisse à Jus restaurant for good food in a stylish, relaxed atmosphere.

    La Rochelle is a maritime city so it’s fun to take a short cruise into the bay to see Ile d’Aix and Fort Boyard, home to the famous game show, at close quarters. For life beneath the waves, don’t miss La Rochelle’s Aquarium, one of the world’s largest, to see 12,000 marine animals from around the world.

    The Vieux Port and Rue Saint-Nicolas are the essential places for night owls and anyone who just wants to stroll through the streets and soak up the charm and party atmosphere. Be sure to drop in to La Guignette, the town’s must-do bar, for an aperitif.

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  • La Rochelle

    The largest marina on the French Atlantic coast, La Rochelle began as a fishing village in the 10th century and boasts not only 1000 years of history, but also a range of activities and events which make it one of the most prominent cities in France.

    Leave your luggage at the 3-star Hôtel Saint-Nicolas right in the heart of the town and then head out to soak up La Rochelle’s maritime atmosphere which effortlessly combines chic with cosy. 

    There are plenty of must-do experiences for the first-time visitor. Stop off at the famous towers beside the harbour to take in the iconic view of town, bay and port. Then go shopping along the historic streets with their stone arcades and luxury boutiques, not forgetting the covered market, an unmissable stop for anyone who loves fantastic food.

    Hôtel St Nicolas

    Then settle down to enjoy some of the best rochelais recipes cooked by Richard and Christopher Coutanceau, on the edge of Concurrence beach. Their delicious dishes will rank amongst the best French gastronomy you’ve ever tasted.

    If you like getting out on the water, take a cruise on a sailing boat – glass of champagne in hand – for an unforgettable view of Ile d’Aix, Fort Boyard, and this picturesque section of the Atlantic Coast.

    Then as night falls, sip a cocktail while you watch a show, or try your luck at the slot machines or poker tables of the Lucien Barrière Casino, whilst enjoying a panoramic view of the bay. The ultimate chic soirée!  For something more lively, head for the bars, pubs and clubs of Rue Saint-Nicolas.

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  • Palmier sur cour - Aziyade bedroom

    Just a short walk from the key attractions of historic Rochefort, the Palmier sur Cour is a B&B in authentic period style.

    Think spacious, high-ceilinged rooms, antique furniture and sumptuous soft furnishings, then add a shady garden, elegant façade, and quiet patio.

    Typical of the grand houses built by wealthy merchants and ship-owners, the Palmier sur Cour is the ideal base for anyone wanting to explore the fascinating maritime heritage of the town chosen by Colbert for Louis XIV’s royal dockyard.

    Palmier sur cour - Anges bedroom

    Walk through the botanical gardens to visit the museum of the Corderie Royale, an elongated building beside the river Charente that once housed the Royal Ropeworks.

    Visit the Marine Museum, the School of Naval and Tropical Medicine, and the huge collection of brilliant begonias, brought back to the town from naval expeditions and named after Mr Begon, a leading local figure.

    Palmier sur cour - Corderie bedroom

    Continue your historical journey at nearby La Rochelle where the Museum of the New World showcases the town’s links with the Americas.

    Explore the network of cobbled streets behind the historic harbour where imposing private mansions and public buildings were built in the 17th and 18th centuries as trade developed with Canada and the West Indies.

    Visit the twin towers that guard the harbour mouth, and the third tower along the ramparts that served as a lighthouse and prison.

    Then return to the Palmier sur Cour to relax after your day of exploration.

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  • Family fun at Futuroscope amusement park CRTPC©O Héral / M Vimenet / Getty Images / Parc du Futuroscope

    With its amazing range of moving-image attractions, Futuroscope is a destination for all ages with new attractions added every year. Enjoy 3D, 4D and Imax movies; test your skills on the interactive experiences; and take your seat beneath the stars for the fantastic new evening show, Lady O.

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    But there is plenty more to enjoy within an easy drive of Futuroscope. Cognac is synonymous the world over with good living, relaxation and centuries of tradition and expertise, and you can experience them all by adding on a short break to the vineyards of Cognac Country.

    The town of Cognac makes an atmospheric base with its ancient streets, cognac discovery centres, and the headquarters of many world-famous brands. Take a cellar tour to discover the secrets of blending cognac; walk the banks of the Charente river; and take in the Château des Valois, birthplace of French king François I in 1494.

    Hotel Heritage, Modern times room, Cognac

    Enjoy the atmosphere of the Hôtel Heritage in the town centre, a historic private mansion that was largely rebuilt in the 19th century and is now classified as ‘Hôtel de Charme’. Sympathetically restored, the hotel’s essential character has been preserved by the current owners who have added exotic flashes of contemporary colour. The restaurant menu ensures that every guest enjoys a true flavour of Cognac country.

    Explore the self-drive Cognac Trails linking producers, vineyards and villages, and stop off for tastings of cognac and Pineau des Charentes aperitif.

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  • Combine a stay with the thrills of Futuroscope and the magic of the Green Venice.

    Architecture in Futuroscope amusement park

    Conveniently located on the outskirts of Poitiers, Futuroscope is a theme park with a difference, internationally renowned for its moving image technology since it opened in 1987. Since then it has welcomed more than 40 000 000 visitors, making it France’s second largest leisure park.

    New attractions include 3D and Imax films, enhanced rides. There is also Lady O, a evening show featuring water, fireworks and lasers.

    [+] Book your stay to Futuroscope amusement park

    But why stop only at Futuroscope? Poitou-Charentes has all kinds of temptations to offer.

    West of Futuroscope, for instance, the marshland of the Marais Poitevin stretches inland from the Atlantic Coast as far as the pretty town of Niort. Second largest wetland in France, this tranquil area is made up of three very different landscapes, the Baie of Aiguillon, the ‘Dry Marsh’, and the ‘Wet Marsh’.

    And at the heart of the ‘Wet Marsh’ – often referred to as Green Venice – is the village of Coulon. Take a short break here and you can glide quietly through shady waterways in a traditional flat-bottomed boat; explore the towpaths by bicycle to discover other marshland villages; and find out about the unique local lifestyle at the Maison du Marais Poitevin. Perfect for couples or families.

    Hotel Au Marais room, Green Venice

    And on the banks of the Sèvre-Niortaise river in Coulon, the delightful Hôtel Au Marais offers light, airy bedrooms in neutral colours dotted with flashes of rich pink and lime green. All the rooms have private facilities, desk and WiFi connection, and the breakfast buffet includes scrumptious home-made pastries. Tempted …?

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